Rodman begins sightseeing on NKorea trip he hopes opens door

A pair hugs and cries outside the plane carrying Otto Warmbier a 22-year-old University of Virginia undergraduate student who was imprisoned in North Korea in March 2016 before he is transferred from a transport aircraft
Rodman begins sightseeing on NKorea trip he hopes opens door
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18 June, 2017

Otto Warmbier, 22, is in a coma, his father Fred Warmbier told NPR News on Tuesday.

Hours after Rodman arrived in the capital, North Korea released 22-year-old United States student Otto Warmbier from a 15-year sentence of hard labour. She says Trump's "thoughts and prayers" are with the 22-year-old college student's family.

Americans are regarded as enemies in North Korea because the two countries never signed a peace treaty at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. And how does the Trump administration respond?

In rare high-level contacts, Yun met senior North Korean officials in Oslo in May, where it was agreed Swedish officials in Pyongyang, who handle U.S. consular affairs there, would be allowed to see all four American detainees, a State Department official said.

Tillerson's announcement comes as former National Basketball Association player Dennis Rodman is paying a return visit to North Korea.

My colleagues Anna Fifield and Karen DeYoung reported that there was no coordination between Rodman and the White House: "Officials involved in securing Warmbier's release told The Post that it had nothing to do with Rodman's trip to Pyongyang, calling it a "bizarre coincidence" that might have been a deliberate ploy from North Korea to distract from Warmbier's condition". "We learned of this only one week ago", they said in a statement.

Police apprehended the student, identified only as 25-year-old Kim, Tuesday night for sending a homemade bomb to his professor's office at the engineering faculty building of the university in western Seoul earlier in the day. He was charged with "hostile acts against the state". He was sentenced in March after a televised tearful public confession to trying to steal a propaganda banner.

The U.S. government condemned the sentence and accused North Korea of using such American detainees as political pawns.

Asked whether he was working on the release of detained Americans, he said, "that is not my goal right now".

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The announcement came amid tension between Washington and Pyongyang following a series of missile tests by the North, focusing attention on an arms buildup that Pentagon chief Jim Mattis on Monday dubbed "a clear and present danger to all".

He was detained at Pyongyang's airport ahead of a flight to China. There they told Yun about Warmbier's condition. USA officials last had consular access to Warmbier on March 2, 2016, through the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, Nauert said. He said Warmbier's sentence was "unnecessary and appalling". FILE - In this December 20, 2013, file photo, former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman, center, watches from courtside during a practice session for North Korean basketball players in Pyongyang, North Korea.

Tillerson says that Warmbier is on his way back to the U.S.to be re-united with his family. The North Koreans "were informed that the airplane would land, American and medical officials would get out".

Warmbier hails from Cincinnati, and Ohio's two senators both welcomed his release, while condemning his captors. They were immediately taken to Warmbier. "I can only feel for what the family is going through", he said, shaking his head.

Otto Warmbier, an American student who was detained in North Korea in January 2016 and lapsed into coma in March soon after his trial, was released by the Pyongyang regime on humanitarian nrounds.

Officials could not immediately confirm USA media reports that Warmbier had fallen into a coma during his incarceration.

During his 18-month incarceration, the Warmbiers heard from Otto only once, through a letter on March 2, 2016.

North Korean state-run media said early previous year that Warmbier was arrested for what they described as "a hostile act" against the regime. "North Korea is persecuting their savior, a person who came to help them". Moon - a liberal who has historically worked for rapprochement, rather than confrontation, with the North - was critical of some aspects of US policy in the region ahead of his election.


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